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Ask HN: Why is Microsoft Teams still so bad?
862 points by TurkishPoptart on Sept 21, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 793 comments
It's buggy, and it crashes more often than any other app I use. God forbid you try to change the audio device from speakers to headphones in the middle of a call. And then if you try to just call back on your phone, and they want to share their screen, and you go back to your PC and try to join the call from your PC so you can see the screenshare (it's not going to work).

Seriously, with all the money and resources thrown at this company and this app, you'd think it'd be a little more stable, faster, and reliable. I am literally forced to use this app at work...

Teams doesn't have to be good to succeed. It just has to exist. It's not even very important how good it is. Given it exists, IT will make everyone use it on Microsoft's behalf regardless of how bad it is.

Or another way to look at it is that the real customers for Teams are IT departments. It makes their lives easier because they don't have to do anything and it meets all the compliance requirements they are supposed to enforce.

Which in turn reflects that the real customers of IT are regulators and auditors. Nobody with decision making power actually cares whether any of the software in use in enterprises works well or not.

Yup. It might even be that while the engineering team is aware of the faults, the MS exec team considers Teams to be brilliant.

At the senior level the role becomes a sales role - you are continuously selling your output, team, product, vision, etc internally to the other execs, board, etc. It's important therefore to present whatever you are producing as exceptional. So you look for indicators that support your pitch. Sales and forecasts are far more important than product. Product is only as important as far as it directly impacts these numbers. And with channels / vertical integration / brand like MS, a core tool like Teams is almost a guaranteed success on these metrics as long as the product kinda works.

And then it's very easy to fall into the trap of buying into your own pitch. When you are continuously repeating how great the product is you begin believe it and ignore criticism, including public opinion. "What matters is the markets opinion not the publics opinion and Teams has huge market share".

So MS execs likely believe Teams to be brilliant, which is probably partly why there isn't the internal urgency to fix the issues.

Also - its a golden goose! Its good enough, generates tons of revenue and fills a strategic product gap. Why take a big risk and refactor it? This could be a disaster.

Takes a very brave, product focused leader to push on despite the above.

It is the old joke. Dev says it is shit. Manager says it is dung. Senior manager says it has a strong odor. Director says it is powerful features. VP smiles in satisfaction.

Was looking for a good place to post this in the thread but I'll just drop it here. Microsoft Teams still lacks multi-account support on desktop.

As in, you can't sign on to several business organizations like you can in Slack. It's so dumb and disqualifying. Utter nightmare if you work with several organizations.


I've bookmarked that page and I check in on it regularly, as Microsoft claims multi-account support is due for late 2022.

The fun part is that this functionality already has been added to teams (for over a year now), it’s just disabled and hidden by default. Might be worth enabling it if you use multiple orgs. https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams/track...

Intriguing. Doesn't seem to work on macOS tho.

> As in, you can't sign on to several business organizations like you can in Slack. It's so dumb and disqualifying. Utter nightmare if you work with several organizations.

I think they were really hoping they could make that cross-tenant thing work where you only have one account that you can use as a guest in other orgs, but that really doesn't reflect how things work in the field (you have separate accounts at each organization).

This is a problem even if you work for one organization (e.g. govt or university) but have clients/collaborators in other organizations, and want to join their teams.

Also "we are paying for O365 already, we get Teams for free*".

This. And the second reason is "We have KPI's with Microsoft about teams: they guarantee that it works in x% of the time, and they guarantee that it complies with our security guidelines". Notably the security is something that can never be beaten by any other application, be it on of off premises. No matter how brilliant it is. It can never beat Teams, because Teams is "good enough" and "free" at the same time.

This is the real reason why my company uses teams. Its really hard to motivate the cost of slack when you already are paying for teams.

Exactly. Nobody would pay for Teams if it cost money. That's how bad it is.

Yep, and the logical conclusion would be to stop paying for O365.

There are no real alternatives to office-365 for a majority of the companies out there.

What does Google Workspace lack for a majority of companies?

On the top of my head, excel and all the features it has. There are probarbly lots of other things. But if Googl Workspace works then good for you. I just know there are tonnes of companies out there that just cant live without MS-Office

If you're the one in charge of the budget, paying $12.50/month for each employee does not make sense if you're already paying for an alternative. (Assuming Business is sufficient; Enterprise would be a lot more.)

remember when Slack tried to file an antitrust complaint about these anti-competitive practices?

Yeah well somehow that got silenced real quick. Microsoft is evil under the surface, with extreme close ties to governments, regulators, ...

I'm skeptical that even mighty microsoft can make anti-competitive claims go away by complaining to their favorite regulators. They were beat up by that. Can you provide more info?

While this is true - you have to look at the competitive space also (not just Slack). My previous employer forced us on a hosted HipChat. Absolute garbage. laggy; crashed often (sometime taking down my host) and worst of all randomly deleted chat history - so if someone sent you something (important) you may or may not be able to reference it later. Absolute garbage.

Left that company (a fortune 50) ~roughly when Teams began rolling out, and my coworkers complained to no end (Slack -> Teams migration happened roughly when i joined). I still complain about Teams - but outside of raw IRC Teams is by far the best messaging App I've used at work. (I do also run slack/discord for personal groups/projects, though nothing at crazy scale).

Someone should make job board where people can filter out companies that use Teams instead of Slack or Discord.

Use of Teams has a been a deciding factor about not taking a job before. It's got to be pretty bad when it makes me nostalgic for HipChat.

I used HipChat for years and never actually saw what the thing looked like. Any XMPP client just worked, no hassle whatsoever. When we later switched to Slack it was actually a downgrade from my point of view. :-/

Unfortunately, at least in my experience, if the company shows any signs of success then incoming Finance/IT execs will force a change to Teams to "enable growth". If they begin to struggle, then incoming Finance/IT execs will force a change to Teams to "consolidate and streamline". I've experienced both of these. Resistance is futile.

Throw JIRA into the mix while you're on it.

Also can I choose my own OS or am I stuck with the "approved" one or two.

You can choose which job to take and you can ask what OS they'll allow you to use before you sign any offer.

Wait, what's wrong with JIRA?

There's lots, but I think it comes down to two main things: It has bad defaults, and it can be customized to have really draconian workflow rules.

If you configure it to be reasonable -- keep the workflows very simple with few to no validation rules -- it can be fine to use. The temptation seems to be locking down admin access to managers, and then the admins going crazy building workflows like "these 19 custom fields must be filled out to start" "items must go through a QA step" "QA users are the only people that can approve that step" and "PMs are the only ones that can close a ticket". This quickly gets out of hand and makes it horrible to use.

It also depends on the people using it -- garbage in garbage out, as they say. If people write good tickets (concise titles, format the body, remove irrelevant crap, and properly fill out meta fields like fixVersion) it is much more useful. JQL is awesome, and embedding tickets and JQL queries of tickets into Confluence is awesome (hint: easy way to make release notes) -- but both of these require non-garbage ticket content.

Subpar at what it's supposed to do, extra features don't add a whole lot, mostly made and configured for managers instead of developers. Largely the same reasons people dislike Teams. Has even worse integrations with the Atlassian stack than Teams with the MS stack.

JIRA, just like Teams, is slow, bloated, still won't fix basic issues and largely exists to appease managers. You have to actively work to make JIRA a pleasant experience. It's too easy for most management to make it hell.

I personally find that the more I have to use JIRA, and the more magical ephemeral rules that are set up in it to take actions in response to my actions with it, the more terrible it is to use.

I've worked on teams where I just threw info into a card, and it was acceptable to use, and I've worked on teams where commits had to have a JIRA tag associated or the commit got rejected, including in instances where bitbucket was timing out it's call to JIRA. In the latter cases, I prayed for Atlassian's swift destruction, but alas, was never answered.

So like a lot of tools, it's how you use it, mostly. That said, as far as universal problems, cloning cards has to be one of the worst UX experiences I run into on the job with any frequency that I can't just fix myself. If the web app needs to await a successful or failed clone of a record (or series of them), I'm not sure why they can't implement a modal or a spinner or other component to tell the user that something is happening, then either navigate the user to the new card, or ask the user if they would like to view the new card. Shooting off a process that you say could take an indeterminate amount of time then dropping eventually a completion notification and link in the bottom left panel is just about the least helpful way to communicate that information.

edit: unrelated meta comment, but it's funny as hell to me that this question got 4 replies in the few minutes it took me to write this reply, all within 10 minutes of the original. People are really out here just waiting for a chance to complain about JIRA. Myself included it seems. Makes me feel a bit bad, hate to pile on to popular sentiment when others have already commented in a similar direction.

I'm trying to cleanup a Git tree right now where people haven't put JIRA tags in their commit comments, it is impossible to find out why a change was made, it isn't a totally stupid requirement.

"It's impossible to find out why a change was made" is a completely separate issue. Either the code is documented or it's not, completely polluting your history with JIRA tags isn't the answer - not least of all because like a sibling commenter said you're now forever tied to JIRA, or if you ever move off of JIRA, now get to choose between bringing JIRA tag information into the new ticketing system, or rewriting your entire git history again.

It's definitely a concern to rely on the ticket system, but the commit message and the comment can't (and shouldn't) contain every bit of info about a change.

Commit message: "Improved clarity and detail in error message"

Ok, that's obvious what's happening, and as a standalone change that's absolutely fine. But the question it doesn't answer is why did someone actually put that effort in?

If the commit message mentions a ticket, then you can go look that up, and now you can find out, for example: it was a ticket that was an unknown bug being experienced by one specific customer, and so the error message was being improved as part of tracking down the bug. You also see who the customer was, internally who reported/escalated it, how long this has been an issue for, and if the bug was found and eventually fixed or not.

I'd argue absolutely none of that belongs in comments in the code, and it's way too onerous for a dev to constantly put that level of detail into every commit message. It's a balance: it's only useful to lookup that info on a small fraction of commits; it takes a lot of time to figure it out when missing (especially if it was many months ago); and putting a ticket number in each commit message is very low effort.

The project has just moved to JIRA from Bugzilla. The original convention was to put the Bugzilla issue ID in commit comments, these IDs were carried forward when moving to JIRA so people can still search for them.

Yes, "let's tie our codebase to the choice of ticket system forever as a means to commit documentation"

You can have both. Also, let's not pretend developers are wholly committed to writing comprehensive commit messages. A ticket number is useful if the change was relatively recent. If the organization moves to a different tool, chances are they are well aware of the potential history they are leaving behind.

and... I've never yet been in a team/project where being able to track/view/find issue/code pairings from years ago was ever remotely useful or helpful. If it was something in the last few months, sometimes people could dig in and try to understand a bit more by asking relevant people.

Finding a 'bug' introduced by someone from 4 years ago who doesn't work there any more, then finding the particular ticket that spawned it... this has never been high on the priority list of anyone I've ever worked with.

As an architect working on maintenance & refactoring, I find regular value in being able to understand the context (issue tracker ticket) in which a commit was made.

Also more than mildly useful for devs doing porting work.

Commit comments are rarely substantive enough, and "asking relevant people" is nice but not an actual substitute for keeping meaningful records.

I can recall multiple times I've determined why the current logic in the code should be not simplified as part of refactoring or fixing a bug after tracking down the original ticket associated with a commit. That original ticket is quite often a bug report, and sure enough, there was actually a good explanation for why the code is written the way it is, which is almost never going to be captured in commit or inline comments. While having an associated unit test is arguably a better way to capture the reason for such code changes, there are many reasons that's far less likely to exist than a JIRA ticket or equivalent.

So people put the ticket number in the message and then don't write a useful commit message. Congratulations, you just added one roundtrip per commit to the slowest website in existence to every single time you want to look at git history.

Did I mention that you can't look at JIRA from a mobile phone?

This assumes that writing a ticket causes people to explain their rationale better than a commit comment does. That might be the case, but it often isn't because tickets are filed by developers themselves, or by PMs who just write tickets like: "A system requirement is that users be able to do X" without further explanation.

Or you just write sensible commit messages. Commits together with the messages should require as little out of band information as possible.

Bullshit. "Fix performance issue in listing page for customer support".

Which customer? Is it the same issue as the one this other customer is reporting? How does the support person know the fix has been released?

Unless you are expecting devs to copy paste a tonne of info into commit messages, it's way easier to just put the god damn ticket number in the commit title.

If you really need to commit something with no ticket, just have a dummy ticket placeholder like DEV-0000.

99/100 it's just laziness on the devs part... It's way easier to add a ticket number than write super detailed commit messages, and every case of missing Jira numbers of seen, there has never been a detailed commit message in its place... /Rant over

> Unless you are expecting devs to copy paste a tonne of info into commit messages, it's way easier to just put the god damn ticket number in the commit title.

Yes, that's what devs should do. Or link to an issue from the git provider. Commit messages shouldn't contain customer information, they should contain fine grained information why the change fixes a particular issue and other technical minutae.

What you doing here is conflating business information and technical information. Business knowledge has no reason to be in commit messages. The code base should be 100% understandable without specific knowledge about what customer wanted what. It would be a huge red flag for me to see those things talked about in the context of the commit messages as a regular thing.

I hate to break it to you, but code is usually written in support of a business objective and does not exist in a vacuum of technological purity... I say this as someone who's written everything from x86asm to python and everything in between for decades. If it really upsets your sensibilities to insert a reference to that business objective in a commit message then I don't know what to tell you...

A business objective is generally translatable to a use case, user story or requirement that can be understood without knowing "Mr. Smith from Company Thingamajig struggles to do x and is willing to pay sums of money to have it fixed". Your developers absolutely should NOT be knowing or dealing with business objectives.

As always there can be exceptions but if this is normal operating procedure for your company I would run far and fast.

> If you really need to commit something with no ticket

I'm of the opinion the only time this should ever happen is if it's a critical fix to allow ci builds to succeed. E.g. unit tests with hard-coded assumptions about the external world (current date etc.) that stop being true. Or errors in pipeline scripts that occur due to changes in a build agent.

The best thing about cross-linking between Git and an issue tracker is that when you have multiple commits for one ticket (very common), they can all link back to one ticket. Having the extra context from discussion is useful, but obviously that can be summarised in the commit message. So being able to instantly get a list of commits that link to the one ticket is the really invaluable feature that I don’t know of any good way of doing another way.

I'm a big fan of this personally, but I've also lived with the experience of completely useless commit messages, so I understand both arguments. Here's the most recent commits for a project I'm working on:





Log entries

missing package json

missing package json

ttl in seconds

cache back on

Still, I'd rather try to convince people to write useful messages than hard bind my remote code repository to my system for managing work, and often times (but certainly not always), single line commits are self explanatory.

Jira doesn't really work well out of the box. It needs a lot of work to configure. I love Jira now, but it's been hell in the other startups. It's probably why stuff like Trello and Asana took off.

JIRA implementations I've seen don't help people see what's ahead; they focus on what's been done to date. If you're on a single, small team that has minimal dependencies on other teams, that can work, but if the project has any significant dependencies on other teams, it becomes very hard for anyone to understand how things are going.

That’s literally the point of the kanban board. I don’t understand how these projects were configured for that to be true — did they hide the backlog?

Atlassian is an asshole company for their stance against selfhosting it.

What stance? You simply purchase a license and selfhost it.

See https://www.atlassian.com/migration/assess/compare-cloud-dat...

Newsflash: Jira Server end of sales was in februari 2021. Support will completely end in februari 2024.

You better start scheduling your migration.

Maybe for insane prices. But that too will go away.

People that don't need Jira but are forced to use it just hate it.

Same as any other product in the world.

What's good about it?

It's the first line on my LinkedIn bio. I've gotten no shortage of recruiter inboxes saying they don't use Teams.

I'd rather have Team that Slack or Discord.

After my company switched to Teams, my IT department became much more productive because the amount of needless interaction with other people decreased.

And we were not affected by that shit, since we share the same office anyways. Who needs a messenger when you can shout ;)

How did Teams do that that slack or discord couldn't do? 90% of the features are overlapping. And Teams performs by far the worst at that 90%.

I think this:

> And Teams performs by far the worst at that 90%.

is exactly the reason for:

> the amount of needless interaction with other people decreased.

Simply put: nobody wants to touch teams, so they only do this when absolutely necessary (and even then chances are they will just send an email).

It's not about the specific technologies a company uses, but rather how that choice gets made.

Teams is chosen in companies where the organization is so big that "unification" is seen as a big plus.

What you're out after, are smaller organizations where choices are made based on what people working with those things actually want to use.

So look for headcount rather than what chat program they use, because the headcount will affect more choices than just what chat program you'll end up having to use.

> It's not about the specific technologies a company uses, but rather how that choice gets made

But sometimes specific products are simply less than ideal no matter how they're used. I consider Teams to be one of those.

why on earth would you use Discord in a company setting?

I would rather just go back to IRC.

I've always regarded Slack as "IRC, but non-geeks will use it as well."

This model is not by any means entirely accurate but it's been an extremely effective heuristic.

Slack is worse than Teams, no thanks.

I've used both. IMHO Teams is by far worse than Slack.

This doesn't mean that Slack is better than anything else, it's just better than Teams. Truth be told, even sending a letter by mail is better than Teams.

My company uses both. That doesn’t improve things much but it does give me a good view of both.

- slack great for - huddle collaboration - chat threads - searching chats - focused chat layout

- teams great for - sharing video of eachother - taking control of screen share (no need to futz with asking someone to stop sharing when they already vocally told you to share, most sharers aren’t trying to steal the screen from you as devs) - reactions / emojis when you want to react silently

"surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman"

Teams seems to consistently make me think I’m fat fingering things and I have to go back and type again when I open a new message and start typing. I seems like it’s storing something in a buffer then spewing it async out all at once in the wrong order when it catches up with my input. This happens multiple times a day on a 2017 i7 laptop.

Maybe Teams is an Intel make work program? Have it run slow on all but the most expensive new Intel processors?

It's also upsold as part of existing MS sales agreements which is why execs will buy it. Easier and cheaper than negotiating a new enterprise contract with an unrelated company eg Slack

Along the same lines, Googles Chat and Spaces are really close to becoming “good enough” that you don’t need Slack. Their threading setup is awful and they desperately need to let admins set sane defaults for notification sounds, do not disturb hours, etc.

But aside from that it’s really close to being a good enough chat option that Slack doesn’t feel necessary.

Google Meet is already good. Gmail is excellent and the calendaring system is best in class.

They fix the chat UX issues and it’s going to be interesting.

I don't trust Google to not kill features and products on which I would come to depend.

No matter how good Google chat gets, it’s inevitable that Google will kill it sooner or later. It’s a non starter.

This is a bad answer. It's actually a non-answer. You can apply this to a lot of questions. Why does X ... Y (because X can get away with it).

There are real resources behind Microsoft Teams and a lot of people want it to be good. They may not get much of a signal about how well their product is doing compared to competitors because lock-in effects, but I can guarantee you the product managers and executives at Microsoft want the product to work well.

I understand why this sounds like a bad answer, but it's not half-bad in context.

Microsoft 365 absolutely is something of a buffet for companies/orgs with IT budget constraints and compliance-heavy objectives.

Just more stuff that sort of works and ticks boxes, starting with hosting almost everything in the EU for European customers. Compare that to Google, who flat-out refuses to guarantee EU-only hosting for Workspace customer.

All the bundled extra tools outside e-mail and the absolute core M365 Office apps just sit there, ready to use, easy to package and deploy to clients. All generated user data is stored in the MS environment every stakeholder has signed on to. From OneNote, MS Todo to Teams, everything's integrated without as much as configuring SSO externally.

A lot of what's included, Teams specifically, is shockingly bad. But these elements tick very important boxes. And very few people seem to care about the rest. UX isn't a compliance-mandated requirement.

I sort of know this, as I work at a company that has to punch above its weight in compliance, due to industry specific requirements.

If you need good single-sign-on for Slack, you end up paying the now Salesforce-owned company over USD 10/month, just for Slack. If you want decent data retention controls for Slack, you need their Enterprise Grid plan, the price of which is unlisted, but I've heard it's like USD 25/month/user(!). Just for Slack.

Same with Atlassian. The decent handful of dollars you pay per user only applies if you're ok with shockingly limited controls.

With Microsoft, you get a lot for just buying M365. You can get started building a soundly logged and controlled environment if you put everyone on M365 Business Premium (including desktop apps) and/or F3 licenses (web/mobile apps only) for about 20 and 10 dollars respectively.

Sure, you do pay through the nose for the really good logging capabilities with M365 E5 licensing, something close to USD50 per user/month, which is a lot, but it also includes everything from Defender antivirus, InTune device management, Teams telephony call-in support to a Windows Enterprise client license.

There's so much included with M365 in terms of compliance and bundle value that Microsoft absolutely can leave it absolutely terrible UX condition, so they do.

Following your reasoning I'd say your answer is a non-answer as well because

> executives at Microsoft want the product to work well.

IMO, everyone wants the product to work well (except probably competitors).

So why doesn't it?

I'm aware this is not an answer either :-)

> So why doesn't it?

Because microsoft saw competitors that look scary and so decided they needed an all new project released in a hurry. If they have been willing to spend a few years before release they could have a good product, but instead they rushed things to production.

Lync (later skype for business) worked pretty good, but lacks a lot of features (others have mentioned various chat things before then). If they had invested in that all along they probably could have made a stable teams, but the temptation is to call something done and milk profits out of it until you are behind someone more innovated.

I would assume Microsoft is using teams in house. They should get plenty of feedback - the people writing the software should see most of the issues and have motivation to fix them. The admins are just down the hall and can talk to the developers if there are problems. The executives can talk to the project manager about the priorities they need...

They may not know how it works at my company, but it can't be that different.

> I would assume Microsoft is using teams in house

I wouldn't. But surely there's someone here that actually knows? It does seem hard to believe their own engineers would put up with all the issues it has.

Edit: the only evidence I could find you're right was at https://www.microsoft.com/insidetrack/blog/new-microsoft-tea.... But whether it's the primary tool their devs use for communication I don't know.

Yup, almost everyone at MS is using Teams internally. When they collaborate externally they use whatever the partner prefers. For example, there is a Discord server for ReactNative contributors and collaborators with a bunch of MS folks on it. I guess it's also possible there's a Team for Meta folks to talk to MS directly but I somehow doubt it - or at least, I doubt it gets used very much if it exists :)

> Yup, almost everyone at MS is using Teams internally

Really? So they have to know how awful it is. That makes its continued awfulness even more perplexing.

Really? With the exception of Office I can't think of a single microsoft product that could ever be considered "good". They have consistently crapped out sub-par products for decades. It would be perplexing if they could actually get any IM software to a good state. This is their 3rd one. They even bought arguably the best one in the world (Skype) in 2009. Which was "coincidentally" the year that Skype usage fell of a cliff.

Have you never used Visual Studio or VS Code? Would you consider C#/.NET or TypeScript to be products? Having worked with various developer-centric tools across Windows, MacOS and Linux for the last 20 odd years, if I ever felt MS consistently dumped sub-par products on its userbase I'd happily walk away and use alternatives. Teams is one of the few of their products I regularly resent being forced to work with, and would never recommend it if I were in the position to (and yes, Skype for Business would be next on the list).

Okay I concede that Visual Studio is also good.

VS code is another crappy electron app. Why anyone would want to use electron for a text editor is beyond me.

C#/.NET are crap. Especially .NET. And a programming language that is not cross-platfrom is a joke. I know they have made some efforts to get it to work on other OS's but those are just as crappy as all their other stuff.

Nothing wrong with typescript, but I don't really see it as any kind of innovation. It's just JS with some guardrails.

> but I can guarantee you the product managers and executives at Microsoft want the product to work well.

MS cannot even work out there messenger strategy properly. We have/had MSN messenger, Skype, Skype for business, Lync and now Teams.

What makes you think the execs in MS really care about messaging?

That they have so many products ? :)

This. Can we use anti-trust laws to break it up?

It'd be hard to argue that MS has a monopoly on real time collaboration software when Slack exists.

It'd be similarly difficult to argue they're acting anti-competitively when Slack is thriving.

I think usually the argument is that they're leveraging an _existing_ foothold to gain advantage in a _new_ market. So the existing foothold is MS Office and MS Office 360, and the new market is messaging.

How they gained this foothold in desktop productivity software is left as an exercise to the reader.

Hey, thanks! I don't know much about antitrust, so this is likely to be a dumb question;

Why is messaging a new/different market for Microsoft regarding O365? Microsoft has been including business-targeted messaging/collab tools in O365 for years. Skype for Business preceded Slack, let alone Office Communicator or Linc, not to mention Outlook.

Is using existing products to leverage yourself into a new market anticompetitive, or "how any company expands into a new market?"

Depends on the scale of your foothold

> Slack is thriving.

Is Slack profitable?

$780m profit in 2021.

Are you really suggesting to break up a company simply based solely on your dissatisfaction with the product?

the bundled packaging where they give it away for free to get market share is a well documented antitrust practice.

Lookup diapers.com for instance. Amazon sold diapers below cost to gain marketshare, took all customers from diapers.com, those guys went bankrupt, and Amazon upped the prices to higher levels than before.

I am not suggesting breaking up Microsoft and Teams, I am suggesting that giving away Teams for free should not be allowed, it needs to be fairly priced. But Microsoft has good lawyers of course.

Do calculator software devs ask for anti trust laws when someone includes a calculator in their software suite?

Considering Microsoft got hit by the DOJ for this kind of bundling, yes. They've had to be very careful about including things in Windows.

Nobody with decision making power actually cares whether any of the software in use in enterprises works well or not.

^this just isn't true. There's three camps of people. 1) The people who use Teams today and think it works just fine, they even enjoy it and find it simple to use (these people exist). 2) The people who use teams but are annoyed by many small issues that together cumulate to a poor UX. 3) People who will never like Teams for many reasons but make a point about being as vocal as possible about their hate.

Decision makers and leaders care about 1 and 2, which imho is good. I do agree that Teams isn't perfect and I also agree that it plays best, for now, with IT ecosystems. That said, end user love is critical and I think fixing that for group 2 will only help to secure Teams' undeniable comp advantage.

“Can I speak with your compliance department?”

Enterprise sales calls these days.

Lots of rules.

The most basic of features, like freezing the screen while switching context in a presentation, is not available. A request for years by all users and available like for ever, in GotoMeeting or Webex.




Thinking about it, what offers from Microsoft are not used just because somebody must use it...Or their company got it for free?

Do you think that helps Teams or not? I mean, if you can make a shitty product and know that it will sell, why make a good one? If you know you have to make a good product to get sales then that's what you'll do.

Shouldn't there be a level where some people will find the pain of the shittiness so great that they'll step outside of the Microsoft ecosystem whereas other people will accept the shit in exchange for the ease of staying inside the Microsoft ecosystem.

If that's true - and I don't know if it is - it seems like the leg up that Teams gets for being part of Microsoft doesn't help nearly so much as it should. Though truthfully in order to compete with Microsoft's entrenchment you don't just need "not shitty" you need a product that's got something going for it that's weirdly compelling. See Linux on servers or Google Chrome on the desktop.

>Shouldn't there be a level where some people will find the pain of the shittiness so great that they'll step outside of the Microsoft ecosystem whereas other people will accept the shit in exchange for the ease of staying inside the Microsoft ecosystem.

This happened at a company I worked at. There was practically a war between IT support trying desperately to force people to use Teams and the people who had picked up Zoom and quite liked it trying to stay using it.

After a grace period where IT pleaded, whinged and begged, the Windows laptops were ultimately locked down such that zoom couldn't be installed or run at all and everybody was finally shifted on to Teams.

This was all done in the name of security, citing such high profile transgressions "Zoom's end to end encryption isn't working as advertised!" and "omg zoombombing sometimes happens if you don't password protect your room!" were cited. Stories like this were circling the news at that time.

Later on when Teams was bludgeoned by several zero days that were orders of magnitude worse, nobody batted an eye of course, and that story didn't get much airtime.

Microsoft had its claws deep into that company. I suspect they have a pretty good PR team as well.

I recall decades ago picking up a book on J++ as a teenager. I quickly realized the entire point of the language was to sabotage Java. Not to be useful.

Refused to use windows for rest of career after that.


I think its unfair to say the real customers of IT are regulators and auditors. But meeting their requirements is legally mandated. You have to meet that standard. In an imperfect world with deadlines, overhead, and limited resources that's sometimes all you can hope for.

As for Teams being awful. It has problems. But all non native desktop apps do and that includes Slack and Discord. I use both Teams and Discord daily and they are about equal in frustration.

If the software works well but isn’t compliant with laws a lot of companies will have issues with it.

There are a bunch of regulations these days. GDPR is just one of them. A lot of tools are just not compliant.

IT departments have to take those into account. Especially at public companies.

Microsoft does a good job at that and tends to make it easy for the IT departments, too

There are plenty of large public companies not using Teams. I always found this to be a strange argument.

It's illegal to transfer PII to microsoft under GDPR though, so wouldn't it be like setting up a minefield for your employees to consciously choose ms teams for daily communications?

no its not illegal, it just needs a lot of lawyers to workout the details. GDPR does not block a lot of things, it only requires you to work out the proper procedures and paperwork. And that is where Microsoft is good at, the compliance support.

How is is not illegal? The details are basically "PII EU resident data cannot be given to companies falling under legislation of governments not following due process regarding access of PII belonging to those residents" + "The US government regards itself above anything else and does not follow due process when accessing PII of EU citicens stored on premise of companies falling under its legislation" => "EU law does not allow transfer of EU residents PII to US companies". There's no "proper procedures" when it comes to protecting data stored by US companies from the US government.

From what I understand of the Schrems court rulings I think you're right, but the whole EU establishment is continuing to try to ignore the ECJ on this because cutting out US vendors is more disruptive than they want to deal with. From a realpolitik perspective, it's only as illegal as the fines and binding court orders (after exhaustion of appeal rights) will make it.

I also wonder what the Schrems court rulings mean about US citizens working in the EU for EU companies, since the US might feel free to give purportedly binding surveillance orders to such citizens; or for EU residents who visit the US while working for EU companies and receive a binding surveillance order while in the US, possibly even with their work equipment and remote access to company PII.

If cutting out US vendors is disruptive, avoiding travel to and remote work from the US, and avoiding hiring (or being subject to hierarchical oversight from) US citizens in Europe would be even more so.

As a US citizen who is about to move to Europe myself, my preferred solution would of course be for the GDPR to be followed strictly and for the US to change its laws. But I'm really not expecting the US to pass that kind of legislation now.

That sounds a lot like Sharepoint’s story as well.

My company is migrating to DaaS and there is a plethora of Teams issues. IT teams got what they deserve.

Long ago Microsoft had MSN Messenger, which was one of the leading messaging apps. It worked well, and many 'normal' users were using it. Then Microsoft dissolved the team behind it and screwed up the product so bad with bloatware and ads that everyone moved to WhatsApp (except in the US where people went back to texting).

Then Microsoft came out with Communicator, renamed it to Lync, which was a corporate messenger/meeting software. It used its own server, that could federate outside. It worked very well. They added LiveMeeting as a separate app for meetings, built on the same protocols. Our company used it with the "roundtable" camera from 2008, and it all worked amazingly well. We had meetings with people joining in from home and other offices over the internet using inexpensive webcams, 15 years ago.

Then they bought Skype and it went downhill from there. I don't know what happened, but they took a lot of time integrating technologies from Skype (peer-to-peer) with their own tech (which was more telecom/server based) and tried competing with ever-changing perceived competitors by copying parts of their features and UI, without ever making any feature really good. They integrated everything into a single program, Skype for Business, now renamed Teams, and made it bloated and obnoxious. Just try to get it to not start at login... It's like MSN all over again.

I think the Communicator/LiveMeeting software combo they had 15 years ago would still (conceptually) do pretty well as messenger/meeting software now, when modernized. It was much less intrusive and behaved like nice software that you actually wanted to use.

It's kind of crazy to look back and see just how much worse we are today than some years ago with regards to this stuff. I remember an old social media named Orkut, had pretty much everything facebook had and more, also had a huge userbase in brazil and india(?) iirc, but just goot overtaken by facebook. Original skype would probably work better than zoom does today with a few tweaks(I assume, could be wrong there when it comes to joining calls without being "friends" and such). Never used communicator but I assume it would fill the role just as well by your description. Not even going to mention forums getting gutted and being replaced with discord servers that nobody uses voice(the reason i'd assume one would prefer to use a discord server). Cmmunities that didn't want to go for a forum had several "closed community" website creators(that I cannot for the life of me remember the names) and that all got replaced by subreddits...

Quite sad to see the internet continuously being shrunk down to the lowest common denominator, some federated efforts like the fediverse make me quite hopeful, a shame most of them mimick twitter.

Forums weren't replaced by discord. Forums were replaced by Reddit. Although you post still stands, I think you're very wrong in thinking about the reasoning why people use one or another platform.

Let's think about discord for a minute, why is everyone using it? And what are they using it for? I think the answers here are rather simple, people have a need for communication with peers; this communication usually takes many forms: text, voice, video, gifs, images. Discord is a platform that offers people a very simple and quick way of building communities capable of providing people will all of these forms of communication but really, now a days, every messenger application does the job. So the differentiating factor for discord is the ability to organise these communities better than any other platform (save for slack, which discord modelled itself after). Now, it's not perfect, it's impossible to build horizontal communities on discord but it does the job.

So functionally, discord offers people seeking to build communities pretty much everything they could want. Now, it still has some problems: mainly that it's not very good for long-form or persistent messaging like a forum. And this is why you usually have discord communities with a reddit counterpart, a forum-like website and a real-time interaction community.

This let discord built a very wide userbase, and once you have that then you really get to enjoy the magic sauce: network effects. To put it simply, people use discord because everyone else uses discord and everyone else uses discord because people use discord.

As the internet grows it becomes increasingly difficult to break network effects even if you have an offering that's better. But even then, it's also extremely difficult to be novel given that these big companies can simply acquire you when they start seeing you as a threat (look at adobe buying figma). Companies are quicker than regulators at seeing potential market disruptions and threats, so in most cases they can stay ahead of the game. Imo, a lot of the failings of these companies come from underestimating the competition and then trying to play catch-up.

> Forums weren't replaced by discord. Forums were replaced by Reddit. Although you post still stands, I think you're very wrong in thinking about the reasoning why people use one or another platform.

There may be some contexts where that's true, but overwhelmingly I've seen Discord replacing forums, particularly for small, closed groups. Wheereas I've never so much as heard of any group adopting a private subreddit! But tons have ended up with a discord as their central social point (whether or not they need or use the voice feature).

I've seen this especially in gaming circles (guilds, clans, etc.) and to a lesser extent in other hobbies or in patient support groups.

I know discord isn't a good match for the technical features of forums, but it seems to be a good fit for how people actually used them.

This was over a decade ago at this point but at one company we ran our own Reddit server (when Reddit was nearly fully open source) and it was set up to work with our Active Directory so if we could use our work logins.

It was really really awesome.

People used private forums before? Pretty much every country and even cities have their own subreddit, games all have their own "official" subreddits, and every hobby under the sun also has their own subreddit. I think that's what forums would be replacing. Maybe I'm not old enough but forums were rarely a very private affair, imo.

For gaming it makes sense, as it replaces Mumble/TeamSpeak/etc with smoother UI & UX.

> Forums weren't replaced by discord. Forums were replaced by Reddit.

Technically, reddit and Discourse is more like forums, but a lot of things that would have been a forum 15 years ago are now Discord "servers".

True, they were just Reddit or FB groups in the meantime.

Yup, FB Groups was really the nail in the coffin for a lot of forums. Source - Me, ex large-ish forum admin.

Reddit and Discord piled the dirt on top and added the headstone.

It's as though there is a life cycle of an applications development. Early the application is sleek, perhaps not feature rich however instead simple, concise. Either through scope creep, changed ownership or continuous addition of features the application becomes bloated. This could also be the stage of commercialization by way of adds. Finally the application dies as users move onward.

This seems to be fairly common and it seems that as these applications and companies rise and fall that they each bring there own flavor to the mix.

Google maps was concise in 2012, today the app requires a greater number of user inputs to enter a destination for example

This is amplified for chat programs. They are not really all that technically interesting anymore. They are just "good" at first while they are trying to acquire new users, and providing services for free to so. Simple and light, because there's no need to add gimmicky features to attract new users -- Free is free, and anyway the competition has recently become awful and bloated in an attempt to figure out what the magic feature is that will justify their aggressive monetization scheme.

Eventually good chat program runs out of runway, gets acquired (wow look at that userbase!) or needs to monetize on their own, and becomes the bad chat program. And the cycle continues.

>Forums weren't replaced by discord. Forums were replaced by Reddit.

From my experience there's a split, more "generalist" forums did get "replaced" by reddit, by subs such as technology, games, news, etc. More "in-depth" forums where you expected to see the same guys working on something or having matches together etc I've seen being almost always replaced by discord:fighting games forums(even for games with good MM), dev/security/cracking forums, really anything that isn't "mass appeal".

> mainly that it's not very good for long-form or persistent messaging like a forum.

Discord recently added Forum Channels to try and capture this segment as well.


Yes, I saw. It's kind of an awful feature though.

I think the best approach to a mix of forum and discord-like communities is the app "aether.app" though it had a weird protocol behind it and has been abandoned. But the UI/UX although still perfectible seemed to hit a very nice sweet-spot for me.

What is a horizontal community? Why you cannot build one with Discord? Which tool do you use instead for this task then?

I tried to set up a community with left-leaning people (politics). So we didn't really want the owner - admin - moderator structure that discord offered, instead we wanted a more open way for the community to self manage.

The biggest problem came from the fact that we had been all in a discord server in the past that was deleted by the owner after a political disagreement. So in order for that to not happen again we wanted to have a more "community owned" system so that no one would be able to wield such power without some degree of community acceptance.

Sadly, it was not possible to do such a thing on discord as there ALWAYS has to be an owner to the server that's a single individual. Some of these problems can be solved through bots (you can implement very good voting bots) but you're always fighting against the natural structure of the platform, so no solution is ideal.

Democracy. You're talking about a digital democracy!

> Forums weren't replaced by...

Well, for me they were never replaced. I still frequent them regularly for some of the best communities and community-based support around (eg. fortunately vendors of my 3D printing and PCB manufacturing equipment host good ones).

In Discord you can use the same account to join a new server, Slack makes you create a new identity one for every server you join, it's a pain. I don't know if it changed, but at least it was like that, and I never tried again.

Slack is designed for business use, i.e. you join with your company email address which is linked to a Slack organization for the company you work for (or you get invited to join as an external party)

I don't think it's ever been sold as like, a general purpose chat platform like IRC or Discord...it's a shame a bunch of OSS projects decided to settle on Slack for their community chat.

Microsoft execs salivating at your comment. It won’t take long and Microsoft will buy Discord.

Even crazier when you realize Orkut was owned by Google!

That was the problem. Orkut was successful, but that doesn't stop Google from shutting down services. Trusting a Google service to be around long-term is folly unless it's Maps or Gmail.

IIRC the other major problem was that Orkut was invite-only for a very long time. That's partly was it was so popular in a few South American countries, it was very difficult to get yourself on the platform, and even if you did, it was difficult to use it to communicate with anyone locally.

Google was not the giant then that it is now.

Google has had more than one product that I've been excited to use but was invite only, and then only got the invite after interest had died both for the public and myself. Ones I can remember are Orkut, Wave, and Ingress.

GMail was also invite only IIRC.

The difference is that GMail is useful even if none of your friends are on it.

Making a social network like Google+ be invite-only when everybody was already on Facebook was an absolutely bone-headed move and I think was THE driving factor for its failure.

There were so many memes about people finally getting an invite to Google+ and then discovering nobody was there. Without your friends on it, you're not going to make it part of your daily routine, and eventually just forget about it entirely. By the time it wasn't invite-only anymore, the hype was gone and Google+ had already been considered to be a joke.

Inbox? or do you mean the game Ingress?

Orkut's biggest problem was that Google didn't want to devote any resources to moderation but its creator had enough political power to keep the lights on. It didn't take long for users to figure out they could do whatever they wanted.

It quickly became a cesspool of racism, child porn, and other illegal activity, mostly by Brazilians, who bullied everyone else off the platform

It wasn't for a lack of trying by brazillians[0]. I can't remember much racism if I'm honest, especially by mid 2000's standards, and Orkut wasn't like twitter or facebook(today), you only had contact with people you wanted to have contact, so I can't see it being a big deal.


I don't think Orkut was successful for Google, where success in measured in annual revenue in billions.

I guess that's what the parent comment meant.

Google tries many new products (in-house developed or acquired). If it does not reach a user base of several 100 million users (or 10's of billions of revenue) after a few years then they will scrap it.

I am not so sure of those two either (at least free)... the search may stay.

But Orkut was in the wrong department. Hence had to be shutdown. The sheer stupidity of shutting down a 20% project that actually took off in a big way!

WTF is it with this weird "things were better in the old days" nostalgia? They really, really weren't!

> Original skype would probably work better than zoom does today with a few tweaks

When it came out, Skype was amazing because it let you get video calls on your computer. The audio was flaky (I paid for a number for a work line and yeah - wasn't good!), the video broke up all the time, and it dropped out a lot. But we were new to video calls that worked at all and it seemed like a miracle!

Totally not my experience. I had long, uninterrupted conversations with my (now) wife. Daily. During my studies I organized group meetings with dozens of participants without many problems. Skypes original decentralized network design was genius.

Same here. To me Skype should have been the last mover in this space. Everything just worked. I actually had an investment meeting with a Skype competitor who took us through the whole infrastructure of why Skype worked and what he was going to do.

Now a few years later there's a zillion ways to do a video call, and Skype itself doesn't seem to be as good as it once was. I really wonder what on earth happened.

Skype was "good" back then because it could pierce firewalls and nat setups with its p2p magic. See https://www.theregister.com/2003/10/08/how_does_skype_get_th... but if you look around you will find more info...

> WTF is it with this weird "things were better in the old days" nostalgia? They really, really weren't!

A lot of things really, really were. Some weren't.

Generally speaking, I do think that modern software tends to be worse in terms of usability, robustness, and resource usage. But it tends to be prettier and have more "features", so that's something.

I've gone months without rebooting my MBP, and weeks without restarting Firefox. I don't remember the last time software crashed and I lost work.

15 years ago I'd reboot nightly because things were more stable.

20 years ago I debugged an issue in the JVM where it was deleting any file it touched (http://nicklothian.com/blog/2003/08/13/a-java-bug-worthy-of-...).

25 years ago it was normal for a computer to crash multiple times a day and wasn't uncommon for files that had been saved to get corrupted by a crash.

So yeah, very happy with modern software reliability.

It's interesting to understand why facebook got so much wind.

Facebook is vanity. It is really all about ego. People love to stroke their ego. It is hilarious to me how many will defend pride and how many somehow confuse pride with virtue, when the opposite of pride, humility, is the virtue. What made Facebook popular is the same thing that makes any vice popular, such as gambling or drinking, because pride is a vice, also known as an indulgence, and pride, ego, and vanity are definitely not virtues. Facebook (and, to similar extent, Twitter) has tricked its users into believing that vice and indulgence are virtuous, and excessive vice and excessive indulgence are most virtuous. But we all used to know that excessive vanity and excessive pride, or hubris, is counted among the seven deadly sins. Facebook is basically a mass-vehicle for sin, and sin, as a transgression of divine law, feels really great. And that is how Facebook (and Twitter) did it, by presenting opportunity to violate the First Commandment and make everyone worship themselves and think they're God, at least while they're logged-in.

Oh, that's not what got Facebook big. You can stroke your ego in emails or blogs or on forums.

What made Facebook great was that it encouraged users to share personal information (including pictures and bio items) and then made it easy for everyone to anonymously take part of this information.

You could look at pictures of your crush in cute outfits or co-workers in embarrassing situations. You could read about the layoff your ex' new partner had to endure. You could see where the cool kids had their coffee. All of this at any time of day, and nobody but you would know that you knew.

It's the ultimate low-key stalking tool and it was designed this way from the start, because early on they understood that's what people want.

I don't remember the exact quote but I do know one of the early decisions was that photos ought to be open by default and you shouldn't be able to tell who has looked at them -- in contrast to many other social networks at the time.

Voyeurism, mixed with a little FOMO - they had a limited release early on, just like GMail.

I think a large part of it was also the digital photo and smartphone revolution. Instagram did that a little better, but posting straight to Facebook was a little better than what... Photobucket? Personal hosting? Emails with mass CC? It just solved that problem so well for not only the big event pictures we'd traditionally throw in an album, but also adhoc slice-of-life moments.

It also gave that power to businesses, humanising them in a way that hadn't been possible before, and that's where the money came in.

> it encouraged users to share personal information (including pictures and bio items)

Yes, precisely. This is my point entirely, that ego, vanity, pride, conceit and narcissism is what motivates these individuals to want and need to share personal details with complete strangers, and this is the entire point of Facebook, to beguile its members with a platform of opportunity to indulge in symptoms of personality disorder and character flaw.

And why Friendster didn't and how FB kneecapped and murdered MySpace in a back alley and got away with it.

I think facebook's main "revolution" is that it was the first internet as real society platform. Others were websites to make profiles, myspace added artists, but facebook was all about the "real you".

It was just ripe for when internet became a plausible soil for society.

MySpace added artists after it lost to FB and itself.

You mean the big redesign ? In my memories they rapidly had an 'direct music' crowd.

When’s the big redesign? I’m assuming this is after MySpace had already lost mindshare and was slowly dying out?

>"closed community" website creators(that I cannot for the life of me remember the names)


Not to forget that 26 years ago, starting in 1996, we had Microsoft NetMeeting.


A very good VOIP / videoconferencing / white-boarding / application sharing client present on almost all Windows computers, open standards interoperable, with an official ActiveX Control and public API. You could easily embed it into your HTML site (IE compatible only), or drag and drop it into your Visual Basic / Delphi / Microsoft Office script application and thus effortlessly embed and control the functionality into your own website/application.



When I started enjoying a blazing fast connection at Rice University in 1998, I frequently enjoyed MS Netmeeting video calls with friends who were scattered across the country. Within a few years it was a distant memory, and it surprises me how it was well over a dozen years before reliably easy video calls became commonplace.

It's been a long time since I heard mention of NetMeeting.

I remember using NetMeeting in late 97 or early 98 on a 33.6 kbps modem. One of the most memorable parts was the area were you could find other random people to chat with on audio. I had many enjoyable conversations with various people on there, something that I don't think would work well today with the increased number of horrible netizens.

I remember NetMeeting from around 2000 when we used it to at university to do shared desktop sessions for some team assignments... worked pretty well as far as I remember.

What's hilarious and sad is that MSN Messenger had a lot of features back in the early '00s that major players like WhatsApp and Telegram now only implement through gritted teeth, one every year if you're lucky. Things like custom emojis, audio messages, sending a drawing, avatars you could see, choosing your display name, exportable conversation history, you even had games! Nowadays people cheer for the bare minimum in UX that we already had 20 years ago.

And that's ignoring that niche it filled where people were identified by emails, and the particular social rules of knowing that if you went online, it meant you wanted to spend a while talking to people and were available to do so. Discord is kind of similar in that last aspect, but it's enormously complex for the average user and intended for servers, not for 1 on 1 conversations with your contacts. I've always wanted to build a clone of Messenger just because of how much I miss it.

Right but WhatsApp solved a very different problem in the beginning - how do I send a message to someone who isn't online right now (or has a flaky connection).

THAT was what was needed for mobile devices. I remember trying to use MSN messenger when I was on WAP and it sucked. And then I remember Skype on iPhone sucked for messages too. SMS also wasn't great if you were remotely international and had friends and family not in the same country as you.

It took two whole years for Skype to rearchitect away from peer to peer (understandably so).

To this day, when you want guaranteed delivery, in order and without duplicates WhatsApp runs circles around its competitors.

Compare that with Slack which both on desktop and mobile regularly has weird issues with successfully delivering a message.

Ultimately avatars are nice to have and later on top of a reliable messaging service but otherwise I'd take boring old text over flaky rich messaging every day of the week.

For EU, Whatsapp actually solved a different problem, as SMS already existed to send messages to offline people: You could fit tenfold amount of messages to an mobile data subscription to a SMS package that you can get from your mobile data provider. It was so cheap and whatsapp also had more features.

> To this day, when you want guaranteed delivery, in order and without duplicates WhatsApp runs circles around its competitors.

idk about slack et.al. but telegram does that with native clients for linux, android, ios and windows. even media-sync is pretty much flawless ime.

"Skype for Business" was just a rebranded Lync. Consumer-land skype remained a different thing until Microsoft killed that for Teams. Skype for Business' exe was lync.exe right up until the end. "Teams" was a brand new thing and didn't use the Communicator/Lync/Skype for Business architecture.

Then why does it say "Skype is using the microphone" In the KDE taskbar when on a Teams call?

>Skype for Business' exe was lync.exe right up until the end

What do you mean "end"? We still use it!

It's now end of life for Teams, there's no chance they'll rename the exe at this point. You'll be lucky to get anything except the most critical bugs fixed.

I miss skype, only because there was a pidgin plugin that allowed you to use a nice lightweight and snappy client.

It's really crazy how everyone had MSN back when I was younger. It was great, it had webcam stuff, personalization of font size and colors and such, plenty of emoticons, and even GAMES!

I can't believe they managed to kill this amazing product.

I do feel like FB is being killed in the same way, as it was an amazing product for many years and has slowly become ads and unrelated content in a noisy newsfeed :( I really think FB should go back to its roots and simplify the interface and go back to the chronological timeline.

I don't understand why product feel that they need to change to stay relevant. They should just launch other products instead of changing what works well.

It's because it's not enough any more to have a company with a stable source of income; investors expect a stable increase of income.

> Just try to get it to not start at login...

God, why do PMs push this crap. Like users are picking their communication software of the day based on what pops up into their face.

Communication software needs to run in case someone wants to contact you. It should start in the background though.

Communications software needs to run when and only when I want it to run. Who in the heck are you to tell me when to run an application on a device I own?

Thank you, we need more of this mentality. I am in charge of my computer, not some tech company product manager 1,000 miles away. If I don't command my computer to run a program, it should not run it.

If I don't think some company's messenger application should run in the background on startup, it should not run in the background on startup.

No, communications software needs to be in the background ready to use at an instant when needed.

There are many people who need more personal discipline to not contact people constantly, but the software itself should be ready for the times when they should contact you, interrupting whatever it is you were doing.

dear lord, I hope you're not a PM at Microsoft.

Do you also start/stop the modem on your phone whenever you need it?

For the majority of people it makes sense to have a comms app always running as they come to expect that from the smartphones.

Granted, there should be an easy way to configure this behavior for advanced users.

Although a smartphone is a computer (and a pretty powerful one while we are at it), I see it as a communication device. It's main purpose for me is to chat and talk with other people, so I want the modem working as much as it can, or I could miss a call from my granma. Even though I can watch videos (and you could say broadcasting/streaming is a form of communication, just a simplex one) or browse the Web[0], I identify a smartphone as a communication device. That's why I miss hardware keyboards a lot!

In contrast, I see a computer as a general purpose machine. Sure, I don't turn off the WiFi of my laptop, or the router/AP from my house, but those are means to many ends. When I want to check mails on my computer, I launch Thunderbird, and when I want instant mesaaging, I use whatever program/WebApp I need.

[0] As I am now doing, writing a comment in HN is a PITA in a smartphone.

With Teams, my laptop is also my phone. Really, my old DID for my desk phone is now my Teams number.

Same thing with Signal. I routinely take/place calls with friends and family through the desktop client. If I'm on my computer and I've got my computer headset on, I might as well take the call on the computer instead of taking off the headset and using yet another device.

As my computer is a general purpose device, one of its many purposes is also a communications device.

And as such, it should serve as a communication device when and only when I want it to.

So I take it you turn the modem off on your phone unless you're about to make a call?

Or do you leave it connected for long stretches of time to be ready to take an incoming call?

If you had a desk phone did you unplug it until you were going to make a call?

How do you handle incoming calls if you’re not running?

> Do you also start/stop the modem on your phone whenever you need it?

That would be a slightly different way of accomplishing what I already do (silence everything on my phone, and in general, try to prevent it from bugging me when I'm not actively using it).

It wouldn't be a bad approach at all if it made the phone shut the fuck up. The smartphone is one of the best examples on the market of product managers mistaking addiction triggers and "engagement" metrics for evidence of good user experience.

I think we should strongly encourage everyone to be both more aware and more in control of the devices and applications they elect to use.

> Do you also start/stop the modem on your phone whenever you need it?

Yes, I do (effectively). My phone spends a large percentage of the day in airplane mode.

Wait wüt....

Regardless of software, I decide when I'm available to be contacted... not somebody else.

I already mute all notifications/ringtones on the phone when I want to focus, why should we also start doing this on computers?

What makes you as a human more valuable than other animals is your ability to communicate. As if your have everything muted you are making yourself less valuable. The ability to focus without distraction for short periods is okay, but as a human you need to be available to communicate with others the vast majority of the time.

You will get less done in total, but what you do get done is so much more valuable to humans as a whole that it is worth the loss of focus. It was a real mind blower when I realized that, I still get frustrated at times with my inability to get hard things done quickly, but in return I get much more important things done with the help of others.

> but as a human you need to be available to communicate with others the vast majority of the time

I hope every time you are in public (and even in your private life) that you are accosted by randos who are over eager to share whatever drivel comes to their mind. And if you complain they will retort with "as a human you need to be available to communicate with others the vast majority of the time".

Please answer ever spam caller, every JW/door-to-door salesman. You _need_ this. Please post your personal contact details in every public space. Everyone NEEDS to communicate with you. It's not up to you. It's up to them. They must be able to communicate with you whenever it suits them.

"What makes you as a human more valuable than other animals is your ability to communicate. As if your have everything muted you are making yourself less valuable."

That's a nice hypothesis. do you happen to have some research or such regarding this. that could be a nice read :)

And it seems you agree with the original intent of my message. There is a time a place for being focused/left alone. And it's not up to a piece of software (or other humans) to decide this on a permanent basis.

also regarding "You will get less done in total, but what you do get done is so much more valuable to humans as a whole that it is worth the loss of focus."

It's funny because I have the opposite experience. Guess everybody is different in this regard.

Optimist view: Teams replaces desk phones at some (many?) companies. Relying on the average user to open an application to be able to receive phone calls is asking a lot, and is potentially ripe for abuse.

Pessimist view: Companies gain the ability to covertly track presence, which isn't feasible if Teams is left to the user to open.

They also bought (and ruined) MindAlign which had originally been developed and spun off from UBS investment bank and was light years ahead of its time.

What they turned it into / replaced it with was such a depressing step backwards.

Yup, MindAlign was born out of an internal product in UBS called 'Interchange'.

Interchange was a java client, that fundamentally spoke standard IRC to IRC servers, but also used extra external databases to auto-connect users to channels and secure sensitive channels. The client also forced real names (via Active Directory), and was hardcoded to only connect to the UBS IRC servers.

The IRC servers themselves were altered to only allow Interchange clients to connect[1] and to only allow approved bots in channels most of which did full chat logging for compliance purposes.

Interchange was so slow it was nicknamed 'Interchug'.

The IRC server network spanned the UBS WAN network globally, and all staff were encouraged to use it. For the era, no other large banking corporate had anything similar running (officially).

Source: I worked in UBS IT during this period.


[1] Although the more enterprising of us just HEX edited mIRC to report the Interchange client name.

I think Interchange was not originally Java but a NeXTStep application. I am also ex UBS. I don't remember it being slow though.= but then again I might not have used the Java version just NeXTStep and the mIRC hack.

Did you and I ever cross paths ? Wondering now if I know you ;)

Well that was just a nice GUI on top of IRC, and probably some work on the server.

I don’t know which universe you live in, but things like Microsoft Communicator/Lync and “worked very well” do not belong to the same sentence in mine.

I too remember Lync being incredibly buggy. It's probably the least reliable chat software I've ever used.

An ancient version of Skype for Business is embedded into my old gaming rig. I have tried on several occasions over the years to nuke it but I could never be bothered to break out a debugger and a process analyzer to get to the root cause. It still opens on every restart. I don't even think Microsoft knows how to remove it.


> Then they bought Skype and it went downhill from there. I don't know what happened, but they took a lot of time integrating technologies from Skype (peer-to-peer) with their own tech (which was more telecom/server based)

I was at Skype at the time, working on this very migration, so maybe I can shed some light on what happened.

There were a number of failures (on Microsoft part mainly) that made the whole thing collapse:

- The original Skype developers were used to program in C++ with on-premise Linux servers. When the migration plan came in, the tech stack switched to C# on Azure. Most developers were not really keen or experienced working with C# and Windows. Azure was very much beta at the time, I remember the philosophy was "eat your own dog food" which created an insane amount of frustration working with sub-par tooling, little to no documentation, plenty of bugs on Azure. There is also a mentality/philosophy shift of working with C#/Windows coming from C++/Linux which was not great for team morale.

- Support for group chat was paramount, which meant there was a need of transition from peer to peer to client server.

- The original Lync team was very much annoyed with the rebranding and migration plan and was not really keen on helping Skype developers. I remember us receiving a "dump" of the Lync VCS as tech reference, in the form of a big fat multi GB archive. There were tons of binaries, even videos in there... Lot of fun...

- MS/Lync used a _huge_ amount of proprietary SIP extensions to have Lync work.

- The migration to the cloud and client-server model was accompanied by a huge migration to a brand new microservices in C# project. It meant recoding everything in a new language, a new platform, a new protocol, dealing with hundreds of half baked microservices in a half baked cloud platform. It was slow, buggy, and an architect astronaut fest.

- Overall 99% of the original Skype calling team resigned and joined Twilio.

- Pretty much every manager from MS that I have seen at Skype stayed no more than a year then rotated to a new role, at one point we had 4 changes of management in 2 years.

- Every single interaction with Microsoft management was surreal. Pardon my language, but they were not technical at all, unable to understand the most basic architecture proposals, bullshitting tech talk 9 words out of 10,and overall they were living in an other planet in terms of market share and branding. You could definitely tell that they were talking "product" and "objectives" for Skype, but never used it, understand it's competition, challenges, etc. Pure bozos.

In the end I think Microsoft still extracted some value from Skype, mainly:

- Skype had good PSTN contracts worth a lot of value. The matching engine to select the cheaper one dynamically had value too, and historical data.

- The brand itself had value for customers.

MS engineer who worked on Lync. I feel like the Skype acquisition was poorly handed too, but interesting how the perceptions differ.

We were folded into the Skype org, with Tony Bates -who I maintain had no idea what he was doing- reporting to Ballmer. Fine. But he and his henchman (Mark something?) embarked on a quest to make everyone do by-the-book Scrum. That, screwing around with corelib, and the ill-omened liveid migration process meant that Skype didn't improve in any way users cared about for several years. Meanwhile, the competitive landscape changed and the only Skype feature anyone ever used - being able to call your grandma in another country for cheap or free - lost its differentiation. It was clearly over by the time my mom told me she had whatsapp.

Nobody I knew had any animus towards Skype engineers and we were entirely willing to help... but what anyone actually wanted was kind of unclear.

Someone I know who worked there said that after the sale to Ms they had 4 levels of managers between a developer and Ballmer. A year later it was 8 levels. Maybe he was exxagerating, but that was also adding to the problems

It's generally engineer -> engineering manager (10 people) -> group engineering manager (100 people) -> VP -> fancy VP -> CEO.

Depth of org in a company is logN(number of employees) where N is the number of reports a manager has. At Microsoft there's order of 100K full time employees and N is about 10, so depth is about 6. This seems fairly unremarkable to me, though obviously there are other ways to do it.

I love that alignment description, that reminds me of what it was like when I was at Microsoft. Fancy VPs always did unclear things. Above them in my chain was some kind of president who had no clear role either.

> Then they bought Skype and it went downhill from there.

I still remember older versions of Skype, which felt usable and rock solid. I actually used some from I think http://www.oldversion.com/windows/skype/ back in the day for my personal stuff, because the reworked UI was just worse.

But nowadays, I don't really care that much, whether I have to use Skype, Teams, Zoom, Slack, Discord, Jitsi, Mattermost, Rocket.Chat or something else - all of the communication tools out there feel viable, just none are excellent.

That said, WhatsApp feels like it's an order of magnitude faster (on mobile) than Signal and Telegram somehow (privacy implications aside, it's still one of the more popular ways to chat with people in the EU), which I found interesting. Of course, it's generally for chatting, not necessarily team collaboration (where you'd want channels and workspaces). On the desktop, however, generally you're just dealing with packaged browser apps most of the time.

I do feel like mentioning how nice having self-hostable non-cloud options is when you need them, be it Nextcloud Talk or the aforementioned Jitsi, Mattermost, Rocket.Chat or something else.

Matrix is a nice federated protocol and with its client element (formerly riot) https://matrix.org/docs/projects/client/element both demonstrate some respect for user privacy boundaries.

But since it is mostly a network effects game and the setup of keys may be somewhat of putting I am not very optimistic.

Its' a shame though...

I started a new job and decided to go all in on using o365, including keeping notes in onenote. They’re launching a new version next month and I’m hoping that things go in the right direction and they keep the features i’ve just started to use.

The innocence is so cute in this one

I signed into o365 a few days ago and it recommended a random excel file of a completely unrelated department to me. Not sure why an office application needs to "recommend" files.

Indeed. The Sharepoint app for iOS is particularly fun for this.

I have gone to the trouble of installing a Sharepoint application. The idea that people are doing this who do not want a directory tree as 99.99999% of what they do is insane.

I wish you well, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Sweet summer child

Microsoft had several different non-interoperable message apps, including two named "Messenger." Those golden days didn't look so shiny when we were there.

Luckily, there was Pidgin/Adium, so we could have one app to talk all the protocols.

I'm not sure what you're referring to with two non-interoperable message apps named Messenger? There was MSN Messenger/.NET Messenger/Windows Messenger/Windows Live Messenger, but those were interoperable (they were the same thing, just updates). They also managed to wrangle compatibility with Yahoo Messenger (although by then no one I knew still used Yahoo), and apparently Facebook Messenger, and then did a crappy merger/migration to Skype.

I'd go back to those days in a heartbeat, and I was there.

NT had a built in messenger service that operated on named pipes. It was one of those services you disabled as soon as you could.

To be fair, it was a local network toy, more akin to "talk" or "finger" in Unix.

I got into so much trouble as a kid for abusing that...

net send *

Trillian before that

Pidgin (called Gaim) released December 31, 1998 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pidgin_(software)

Trillian (propritary) released July 1, 2000 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trillian_(software)

and ICQ long before that …

ICQ is not the same thing, that one used a single protocol. Pidgin/Adium/Trillian was able to talk with ICQ users and others without installing several applications.

I had to support live meeting in a 80k seat org at the time and it was an awful piece of software. Quite often it would fail to launch, the Outlook plugin would fail to load. You could spend hours playing with registry settings, app config trying to get the plug-in to launch. Live meeting was terrible and deserves to be fired into the sun.

Skype for Business (SfB) was not renamed Teams, the two products are completely unrelated, beyond Teams being a successor product to SfB.

Although there was a little bit of integration between SfB and Skype, (and between SfB and Teams as well) - so could communicate from one to the other.

Although Skype for Business Online was phased out in favour of Teams, the on-prem version still exists, probably for those customers that cannot/will not use Teams for regulatory/compliance reasons, and no end of life date has been announced for the on-prem version yet.

Microsoft also had MindAlign, which was an excellent no-nonsense group chat originally spun off from UBS (!) and widely liked by its users at various big firms, mostly banks- basically it was like IRC with management tools and record keeping added to meet compliance and audit needs. Bits got folded into Lync/ Skype for Business but those were never as good and certain customers are still using the original product.

I work at a bank and we currently (but for how long??) use Symphony which is "Slack but for finance"


It's way better than teams in core features, although integrations are missing, and it doesn't have call functionality.

Goldmans’ response to Bloomberg reporters looking at stuff they shouldn’t have… Symphony is pretty good. It does have video calling but I think many customers opt not to use it.

TIL people in the US use SMS

Why don't people use it elsewhere? I know that WhatsApp is dominant, but why?

Unlimited texting plans were rare in some parts of the world. If you need to pay 9 cents per text, WhatsApp is a godsend. I even had to pay for receiving texts or pay a premium on sending texts when being abroad (which happens much more often in Europe). My understanding is that during the same time period, unlimited texting in the USA was pretty much expected. Luckily, we now have free roaming in the EU, so we don't have to worry about extra charges when using the mobile internet, but I still have to be careful when visiting Switzerland (which, again, is just a 2h drive for me).

Interesting, given that SMS originated in Europe.

It's really convenient for travel, you don't need to pay international rates for SMS, just connect to free wifi and you're golden. If/When you buy a local SIM card, people can still reach how they used too, they don't need to text a new number. When you change your number for some reason, you don't need to message everyone that you have a new number etc.

Because SMS is terrible as a text standard, and people want to use a rich messanger. SMS was used when there wasn't much alternative as Nokias didn't have great app support. People already knew of better things and used ICQ, MSN Messager et al. even without being technically inclined. The limitation was the platform.

It's also why iMessage hasn't taken off. We are used to things working cross platform, the iMessage lock-in doesn't interest people as it isn't providing much convenience for its limitations.

SMS are quite expensive, if your destination has another phone provider they can be even more expensive.

In italy we do ample use of sending audio messages. This doesn't work with sms.

What other replies already said, plus the UX. If they could write WhatsApp (or Telegram) using SMS and their multimedia siblings (can't even remember the name) as transport, then maybe people with unlimited SMS plans could use it. But the standard SMS app UX is so much worse than the UX of those chats. Add groups and all the other features. SMS are to get notifications from banks and credit cards :-)

I add a data point on costs and volumes. I have a 90 GB monthly data cap on my phone but I have only either 100 or 1000 free SMS per month, can't remember because I don't use them. I'm probably not sending 1000 messages per month (but it's only 33 per day), definitely more than 100. I don't want to discover that I run out of messages on the 22nd of September so I won't be using them as a hidden transport in a chat app.

Hard to say, they were all the rage and suddenly just kinda stopped being used (their only purpose now I believe is 2FA, and spam). One reason I can think of is chat history syncing between devices

Wasn't it originally because carriers used to charge per SMS message? Whereas you could send a message with very little data usage, and mostly for free when on WiFi.

where i live (western europe), the telco's overcharged for sms, making a decent conversation costs euros each. Whatsapp + wifi is free.

I heard that originally sms wasn't meant to be a consumer product, it was just so technicians could test or communicate. Then the telco's realized people like texting more than calling (people prefer async sometimes, weird because comms mainly developed from async to sync), and decided to charge a limb for it.

In reality it is more async than texting that please people because nowadays most people use whatsapp as a walkie-talkie over internet.

Where I live (also Western Europe), pretty much everyone has unlimited free texts included in whatever telco plan they have

A combination of less iPhone dominance, different data/sms rates and other factors.

Let me turn that around to answer your question: Why isn't the technology behind SMS used for internet?

SMS is universal and free in the US, and you don't have to juggle a bunch of different messaging services.

It's funny, I have used Communicator/Lync and I remember everyone hated it, including the CEO which was a MS fan, which was the reason why we started using it in the first place. I remember it not being even able to sync presence status properly. We switched quickly to Hipchat, which was not great, but felt like an improvement at the time ^^

Isn't teams just a reskinned SharePoint with messenging and conference capabilities added? Does it use tech from the Skype acquisition?

I do remember everybody using Skype, it was so popular it created a verb of its own, we used to skype with each other. Microsoft paid what was an enormous amount for it back then, then basically let it rot. Really surprising.

Every "team" you make in Teams is a SharePoint site on the backend. Every "channel' under a "team" is a sub-folder on the SharePoint site. Each time you upload files to a "channel" via the "files" tab, it goes into the Documents area on that SharePoint site[1].

The exception for this, is private channels (the ones with little padlocks next to their names). These are created in their own isolated SharePoint site outside of the parent "teams" SharePoint site. It's done this way because the access security around teams/channels is the SharePoint security system. It's a totally nuts way to do it.

Teams is basically built using existing MS technologies in the same way that incorrect LEGO bricks can be forced together if you try hard enough.

I don't think MS have the ability to build an application from ground up anymore.


[1] The one upside of this, is that if you only care about the files held in Teams, you can "Sync" the site to your PC, and it appears as a virtual folder in File Explorer.

> Microsoft paid what was an enormous amount for it back then, then basically let it rot.

They didn't just let it rot. They actively ruined it.

Don't forget the Microsoft acquisition of Groove Networks [1] which was a prescient, but failed, app in team collaboration with a P2P serverless approach.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groove_Networks?wprov=sfla1

Those messenger programs were ahead of their time.

Even today they feel modern.

I still remember the jingle : " ta-dat-dat " with the screen shaking.

The tube monitors with that square screens, that could heat a whole room.

Nudges IIRC they were called.

I remember using cheat engine and sending infinite nudges to friends. Good times.

Skype for business is just a rebranded Lync it has nothing to do with the Skype for consumers.

You forgot that MS also bought GroupMe and it somehow still exists.

Text communcation with Lync was the same as MSN Messenger, super basic. No chat history, no channels. I wouldn't say it's any better than Teams.

Once the beancounters discover that you can make money with a piece of software, the game is over.

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